Fifty years ago, on Oct. 25, 1971, the Republic of China (ROC) was unceremoniously ejected from the UN and forced to cede its seat on the Security Council to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
For a time, it had seemed possible that Taiwan and China might be able to coexist within the UN. During the 1960s, the idea of “dual representation” was floated by Washington — which would have kept Taipei and Beijing at the UN, with China taking over the ROC’s seat on the Security Council.
However, this was shunned by then-president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), who said: “Gentlemen do not stand together with thieves.”
By the time Chiang had come round to the idea, it was already too late: Support for Taipei had ebbed, culminating in General Assembly Resolution 2758, which recognized the PRC as the sole representative of China, pushing Taiwan out to tread a lonely path of diplomatic isolation.
On Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) marked the anniversary of the move with a typically insipid speech, laced with vapid blandishments. There was a call for “greater global cooperation,” a pledge to pursue world peace, and an assurance that China opposes “all forms of hegemony and power politics.” Xi pointedly did not mention Taiwan.
However, for all the placid mood music and soothing diplomatese, beneath the surface Xi must have been seething with rage, as just two days prior, Beijing was thoroughly outmaneuvered by Washington.
On Saturday last week, the US Department of State released a statement that US and Taiwanese officials had met for a “discussion focused on supporting Taiwan’s ability to participate meaningfully at the UN.”
This was a red rag to a bull. Chinese state media pronounced US President Joe Biden’s administration “the most incapable and degenerate in the country’s history,” adding that Washington’s push for Taiwan’s participation in the UN was a “cheap shot” and “shameless manipulation.”
On Tuesday, the state department released another statement — a strongly worded communique in support of Taipei titled “Supporting Taiwan’s Participation in the UN System.”
Signed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the statement praised Taiwan’s democracy, and its importance and contributions to the global economy, ending with a rallying cry for “all UN member states to join us in supporting Taiwan’s robust, meaningful participation throughout the UN system and in the international community.”
Taken together, the statements represent a decisive step toward the Biden administration’s goal of ending Taiwan’s diplomatic isolation. Behind the scenes, Washington and its democratic allies have been systematically working to achieve this goal, having realized that they must speak and act with one voice if they are to contain Chinese aggression and expansionism.
As the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, the AUKUS security pact, recent high-profile delegations by eastern European nations and French senators, in addition to crucial COVID-19 vaccine donations and vocal support from Japan and several European nations show, China’s strategy to isolate Taiwan is slowly disintegrating.
Beijing’s “one China” principle and its wider strategy of diplomatic isolation are a deliberate ploy to squash Taiwan’s international recognition: If Beijing launches a “military unification” of Taiwan, it can then cast a foreign military intervention as “interference in China’s internal affairs” and a declaration of war against China. This is why it is so important that democratic nations continue to coalesce around Taiwan and push back against Beijing’s strategy of diplomatic isolation.
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